The overall air quality in 2022 was slightly worse than in 2021. Weather conditions such as temperature and drought played an important role in this difference. This is according to the large-scale concentration maps published by RIVM each year. The calculations on which these maps are based allow the government to create policy aimed at improving air quality. This report outlines for the first time the projected development of the air quality for 2035 and 2040, based on established policy.

New estimates for 2035 and 2040

Air pollution is harmful to human health and the environment. The main causes of air pollution are particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide. It is important to know whether the air quality is improving over time. To monitor this, RIVM publishes large-scale concentration (GCN) maps each year.

These maps are used for purposes such as reporting under the EU European Union (European Union)’s Ambient Air Quality Directive and the implementation of the National Air Quality Cooperation Programme (NSL). The results of the GCN calculations play a key role in carrying out the Clean Air Agreement (SLA).

These maps include past data as well as future forecasts. This report provides the first picture of the projected development of the air quality for 2035 and 2040, based on the policy adopted on 1 May 2022. Policy that was approved on 1 May 2022 but has yet to be adopted was not included in the report.

Development of particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide

The air contained slightly more particulate matter in 2022 than in 2021. The concentration of particulate matter with particles measuring 10 micrometres (PM10-sized particles) was around 6% higher. The concentration of PM2.5-sized particles was around 3% higher. This could be due to fluctuations in the weather.

The concentrations of particulate matter are forecast to be lower in 2030 than they were in 2021, with a decrease of around 9% for PM10-sized particles and 15% for PM2.5-sized particles. This is mainly due to the expected downward trend in emissions of gases that can contribute to concentrations of particulate matter (secondary particulate matter), such as ammonia, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide.

There was around 4% more nitrogen dioxide in the air in 2022 than in 2021. The concentration of nitrogen dioxide in 2030 is forecast to be approximately 26% lower than it was in 2021. This is mainly due to the decrease in contributing sources from abroad and the fact that new Dutch cars are cleaner. Later this year, the findings regarding nitrogen deposition (GDN maps) will be published in the monitoring report ‘ Nitrogen deposition in Natura 2000 areas’.

The GCN report is based on recent information, which is simultaneously reported on by PBL and TNO.